It has never been easier to embrace a flexible lifestyle, thanks to more and more organizations seeing the wisdom of embracing remote-work policies. Now many 9-to-5 workers have the same freedom to explore the world as contractors and freelancers.
Of course, living overseas isn’t as easy as digging out your passport and packing a suitcase.
There are many details to attend to, and one of the trickiest decisions facing a digital nomad is choosing the best US bank for international travel or living abroad. (If you’re looking for information about opening a US bank account as a foreign national, check out our comprehensive guide.)
Even if you avoid an onerous overseas housing search by opting for one of Blueground’s flexible short-term rentals, you will likely still want to move some of your money into an international or travel-friendly bank account.
The good news is that many US-based banks have excellent account options for digital nomads and Americans living abroad. The best account for you depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s our take on some of the best options for minimizing the fees you’ll pay, and maximizing convenience.
If you’re living outside of the US but using your hometown bank, you’re likely to rack up foreign transaction fees when you make purchases and withdrawals.
This account isn’t tailored specifically to digital nomads or American expats, it’s just known for having low fees across the board. For example, Capitol One doesn’t charge ATM fees or a monthly account maintenance fee. (That being said, you are still on the hook for any fee that a non-Capital One ATM charges users of other banks.)
Are you living in Europe and the Middle East and want to be able to use your US-based checking account in your new homeland? Consider opening a Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account. (Of course, if you’re renting one of Blueground’s turnkey furnished apartments you won’t need to pay your rent with a check each month!)
Just like the Capital One 360 account, Schwab’s High Yield Investor Checking account won’t incur any foreign transaction fees. The Points Guy has praised Schwab for offering unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide, as the bank doesn’t maintain its own network of machines.
The interest rate on this checking account is quite modest, but there’s no minimum balance requirement. This is a huge advantage for anyone traveling on a shoestring budget or looking to live abroad on somewhat modest means.
If you want to be able to find a bank branch wherever your lifestyle takes you next, Citibank is an excellent choice. Value Penguin chose this bank as one of the best for international travel, thanks to its vast network of branches.
There are over 1,000 Citibank branches in the US and more than 4,000 across the world. In all, the bank has 45,000 ATMs in more than 30 countries. It’s practically assured that you’ll be able to locate a Citibank branch or ATM wherever you decide to call home.
Anyone looking to leave the US behind for good should check out the options available from HSBC. NerdWallet praises the bank for its policy of letting digital nomads open accounts in a new country before they even arrive.
You can also opt to have separate HSBC accounts in different countries and move your money between them online or using the bank’s app. HSBC also helps its customers facilitate international wire transfers, though there are fees associated with this service.
Whichever one of these accounts you choose, you’ll be glad you did your homework to avoid racking up fees on your adventure. The key to successful exploration is planning ahead. If you want to arrive in your next destination with a comfortable apartment lined up, you can’t do better than Blueground’s individually furnished apartments in Asia, Europe, North America, or the Middle East. Are you still renting the old-fashioned way? Find out more about the Blueground experience.